CAMPAIGNERS calling for a Hampshire railway line to be reopened say their hopes of success have never been higher.

Cllr David Harrison and fellow enthusiasts want passenger services on the Totton to Fawley branch line to be restored to ease the ever-increasing burden on the A326 and other roads in the area.

The campaign has gained new momentum since Fawley Waterside unveiled plans to build up to 1,500 homes on land currently occupied by Fawley power station.

The issue was raised at a meeting of New Forest District Council's environment and overview panel.

Daily Echo:

Cllr Alan Alvey, who represents Fawley, Blackfield and Langley, highlighted the potential cost of reopening the line and said the cash should be ploughed into upgrading the A326.

"Funds are limited and I believe they should be spent on doing the most good for the most number of people," he said.

"Most people in the Waterside area would benefit from improvements to the A326."

But the council's head of planning, Claire Upton-Brown, revealed that behind the scenes research was being carried out into the feasibility of reopening the rail route.

Cllr Harrison told the Daily Echo: "I have never been more confident that we will soon see the restoration of a passenger service along the Waterside line.

"There are a few members of New Forest District Council who don't understand the value of public transport and the value of using existing infrastructure.

"The more enlightened ones have come on board and are working with me to make things happen".

Writing on social media he added: "I have been told by a number of local Conservative councillors that they back the campaign to restore a passenger service along the Waterside railway line.

"This was not always the case.

"A few years ago, I was faced with significant opposition. One local Tory councillor actively worked to stop Hampshire County Council backing the scheme."

Daily Echo:

A council spokesman said: "A report will be presented to the panel meeting in March 2020 setting out the progress of the different strands of worek in relation to the transport and railway infrastructure along the Waterside."

Earlier this year one of the district’s most outspoken members added her voice to demands for the line to be reopened.

Speaking at a meeting of Brockenhurst Parish Council, Maureen Holding warned that extra traffic generated by the Fawley Waterside scheme could result in nearby villages becoming clogged up.

Cllr Holding, a former chairman of the district council, said: “I feel we ought to lobby all the parishes to get the railway back.”

The line closed to passengers in the late 1960s but continued to serve Marchwood Military Port and Fawley oil refinery.

Although the track is now used only occasionally the signals, stations and level crossings are still in place.